Moving pictures

Windows Media Encoder 9

I wanted to demonstrate the SpamBayes plug-in for the school, and I realized I ought to try the screen-capture feature of the free Windows Media Encoder 9. The results were stunning. I set up a new session, pointed it at Outlook's main window, and began encoding. Then I talked through a demonstration of SpamBayes' configuration manager, its Delete and Recover toolbar buttons, and my techniques for integrating SpamBayes with Outlook's filtering and foldering. Along the way I pointed with the cursor to items of interest, opened and closed dialog boxes, and drove the Outlook interface as I normally do.

The resulting six-minute video had the same format as my Outlook window, which happened to be about 750-by-620. The file came in at just under 3MB. I FTP'd it to my Website and, because I'd chosen the progressive-download option, playback was immediate. It was also perfectly readable and audible. Elapsed time from the moment I thought of trying this to the end of playback: about 25 minutes. Next time it'll take 10. Why don't more people do this? Because it wasn't this easy before. Now, it is. [Full story at]
I wanted to post that video here, but I'm afraid I can't because it reveals too much of the contents of my inbox. However, I'll definitely be using this technique in the future. One killer application, if you sit in on a lot of WebEx demos as I do, is the ability to record them, play them back, and publish excerpts from them.

For example, yesterday I sat in on two fascinating demos. The first was with Bill Appleton, creator of SuperCard, whose new product, DreamFactory (see Paul Krill's InfoWorld article yesterday), offers a really exciting way to compose graphical interfaces that wield Web services. The second was with Mark de Visser and Kent Mitchell of Agitar, whose new product, Agitator, takes a dramatically innovative approach to the automation of software testing. As the first WebEx was ending, it struck me that I might have been able to record it using Windows Media Encoder. So I experimented during the second WebEx and sure enough, it worked -- apart from my fumbling of the audio, that is.

In order to use such material, I'd obviously need to clear it with the presenters, but I expect that for briefings not under non-disclosure, a number of folks would be willing to let me post AV excerpts. I can't wait to try this!

Updates: Ray Ozzie says that they're getting great results at Groove using Qarbon to capture software demos for Flash playback. In other news, the Agitar team has a blog.

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